Accomplished Bellevue University Alum becomes member of Nebraska Board of Education
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
With four degrees to his name, John Witzel knows a little something about education. He’ll put that knowledge to use as one of the newest members of the Nebraska Board of Education.
Witzel earned his first degree in 1974, a Bachelor of Science in Business from Louisiana Tech. He followed that up with a Master of Arts in Executive Development from Ball State in 1979. But he did not stop there. When his military career saw him assigned to Offutt Air Force Base as the Director of the Airborne Command Post (Looking Glass), he enrolled at Bellevue University. He earned his first degree from Bellevue in 1997, a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, and followed that with a Bachelor of Technical Studies in Computer Information Systems in 1999.
“Earning both degrees certainly has paid off for me following retirement. I like to say, old dog-new tricks,” Witzel said. “The Accounting and CIS programs are not at all easy degrees to obtain--especially accomplishing some via night school. There are so many wonderful and dedicated professors at BU, but I do remember Tessa White CIS, Dr. (Lynn) Suberly in Accounting, and Dr. (Pam) Dinville in Accounting. The whole staff at BU was always very helpful.”
Witzel appreciates the strong ties between Bellevue University and the military.
“(It’s) Outstanding,” he said. “BU truly understood the challenges of being active duty and attending classes. Many of the professors were indeed prior military.”
Witzel represents parts of Omaha, Bellevue, and Papillion on the Nebraska Board of Education. He has several items at the top of his agenda.
“I’m proud to represent the citizens in relaying their concerns and desires,” he said. “My current goal is to obtain a waiver from the Federal Government for the No Child Left Behind Act. This would take a lot of explanation why, but in a nutshell, we will be required to have it with Nebraska Standards —non-Common Core State Standards — with local control.”
In addition to his responsibilities with the Board of Education, Witzel has also published his first book, a novel called _Saving Tres Rios_ . Robert Madden is the story’s protagonist, a retired Air Force Sergeant and an educator.
“You would not think that a novel about a public school teacher would be exciting, but it is an action thriller — no doubt,” Witzel said. “Much of the story is based on true events with one main character living through all of them.”
Witzel has maintained close ties to Bellevue University following the completion of his degrees.
“I truly owe a lot to BU and am blessed to have earned two of the degrees I have from BU,” he said. “After retirement from the Air Force, I like to say I got ‘retooled for the future at BU.’ I’m proud to be on the BU Legacy Foundation where part of my estate is directed to BU.”